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Sripraphai overrated

pinkylechat Jul 12, 2009 07:52 PM

I've eaten there a few times and have never felt wowed. Between me and my friend, we had masaman curry with chicken, yellow curry with also chicken, saute Chinese broccoli with crispy pork, and drunken noodles with beef. I didn't care for the masaman at all, sweet and watery, tasted like curry, rubbery chicken, no subtle flavor at all. Broccoli with pork was OK but not outstanding. The other two dishes were spicy but mediocre as well. Everything was just blah. Can someone recommend some real Thai restaurants?!! Thanks!

  1. E Eto Jul 12, 2009 07:59 PM

    Looks like you ordered badly. Maybe try other dishes that Sripraphai is known for. Also do a search and you'll find a slew of recommended dishes. Not knowing anything about your previous experience with different regional styles of Thai cuisine, I'm not sure what to recommend for you. Not sure what you consider really good Thai food. Can you expound on what you thought was mediocre about your dishes?

    1 Reply
    1. re: E Eto
      janie Jul 12, 2009 08:36 PM

      drunken noodles with ground beef is always excellent at Srip, no bad ordering there. We get it all the time. We always order shrimp and other seafood dishes, not chicken. Where you there on weekends or during the week?

    2. w
      Widmark Jul 13, 2009 05:48 AM

      I love their Massaman w/ chicken. Where else do you get huge chunks of stewed chicken the fall apart like that instead of the usual little stir-fried pieces. I find it rich and hearty and have never had Massaman that good anywhere else!

      I've never loved their Chinese Broccoli w/ Crispy Pork, as mentioned on a few threads. Zabb's is superior.

      1. d
        deam Jul 13, 2009 01:24 PM

        There's about half a dozen "real" Thai restaurants within a mile or two of Sri.

        Centerpoint which is literally a block away from Sri
        Zabb
        Sabay
        Ayada
        Ploy Thai
        Chao Thai
        Boon Chu

        3 Replies
        1. re: deam
          w
          Widmark Jul 13, 2009 01:36 PM

          Rhual or whatever it's called in the space that was Uthai...I call it Rupaul. I always see them serving authentic stuff off the menu to the thai speakers...

          And there's gonna be another...woodside and 61st in what used to be Broadway, next to Veggie Monster, finally has a sign "coming soon...Thai and Shabu" so it could be mediocre thai and japanese fusion or something...or it could be good. I know Zabb serves hot pots.

          1. re: deam
            pinkylechat Jul 18, 2010 06:12 PM

            Thanks for the recommendations! I've tried Chao Thai and liked it. Not the best Crispy pork w/ Chinese broccoli, but great noodle dishes. Will try the others.

            -----
            Chao Thai
            85-03 Whitney Ave, Queens, NY 11373

            1. re: pinkylechat
              p
              Pan Jan 6, 2011 02:58 AM

              Chao Thai is an Isaan restaurant, so make sure to get Isaan specialties there, like the salads, larb, and Isaan or/and Northern sausages.

          2. s
            sohjyu Jul 15, 2009 05:37 PM

            We always go back to Sri because the food's consistent, their bathrooms are usually clean, they're somewhat kid friendly, and we're lazy to try other places. We always order:
            - bbq pork tenders, fantastic
            - masaman w beef
            - drunken noodles w chicken
            - pad see eow w pork
            - green papaya salad

            Have been to Zabb and Chao Thai. Will definitely try the others listed here.

            1 Reply
            1. re: sohjyu
              z
              zemilideias Jan 26, 2011 03:26 AM

              Many people always go back to McDonald's because the food's consistent, their bathrooms are usually clean, they're somewhat kid friendly, and they're lazy about trying other places. But on the other hand, I've not been back to Sri lately becuase the food's better in surrounding Thai restaurants.

            2. c
              comiendosiempre Jul 15, 2009 07:43 PM

              I think last year SRI was number one in NYC for "cleanest restaurant" on the Dept of Health listings, or whoever lists that info. . . .

              We have always eaten well at SRI. Some dishes better than others, but never a bad one and always better than the Thai options in Manhattan. Chao Thai also has been good.

              1. bigjeff Jul 16, 2009 07:56 AM

                what Sri always has (while other places don't always have) is:

                mussel pancakes/fritters
                soft-shell crab app

                love those two, at Sri, otherwise, I stick with other joints.

                10 Replies
                1. re: bigjeff
                  Silverjay Jul 16, 2009 09:37 AM

                  Who does the Thai style whole fried or steamed fish better than them? Who does the pork leg in chili basil better than them (or at all)? Who does a better Penang curry? I hope you're not trying to pass off the notion that other than couple of fried appetizers, one should steer clear of Sri for other Thai restaurants. That would be sheer wackiness.

                  1. re: Silverjay
                    z
                    zemilideias Jul 9, 2010 11:00 AM

                    whole fish = nusara, sometimes

                  2. re: bigjeff
                    bigjeff Jul 16, 2009 09:53 AM

                    not saying that, nor do I have a dish-by-dish comparison; just saying those are unique to Sri, haven't seen them at other joints. and they are yummy! with that said, I prefer other dishes at other places (various salads, various soups).

                    1. re: bigjeff
                      janethepain Jul 16, 2009 10:56 AM

                      Curious - have you found a better pad prik khing (the pork with string beans) or tom zap anywhere? I have these at Sri and thought they were really, really, reaaaaally good. but if there's better renditions, I'd be there in an instant.

                      1. re: janethepain
                        NYJewboy Jul 16, 2009 12:26 PM

                        I for one have NOT found a better PPK anywhere. Yes, Sri's noodles are not their best dishes, and the Chinese-y sauteed broccoli is not stellar. But when you order well nothing beats it. I am a fan for life.

                        1. re: janethepain
                          bigjeff Jul 16, 2009 04:26 PM

                          never had the pad prik khing at sri (or I must have over the years but I can't remember) but I really enjoyed it at Chao Thai; very flavorful, strong flavors, nice "dry" taste. avoid their chu chee curry at chao though, not good.

                          last meal I had at Sri was good; soft shell special, sour curry (which I couldn't find anywhere for awhile until Ayada stepped up!), the DIY fried rice, drunken noodles, couple other dishes but I don't remember; the meal was pretty good but not AH-MAZING . . . . I just like the spirit (and fresher taste) of the newcomers like Ayada and Chao Thai much better. And I've been going to Sri since back when it was 1/3 the size it is now so I've been in and out over the years; many meals large and small there with huge expanses of dishes; my tastes have also shifted away from the curries and such, and towards the northern-style food, hence, my shift in choice of restaurants.

                      2. re: bigjeff
                        Polecat Jul 16, 2009 01:39 PM

                        I must have tried 60 things off their menu by now, but never the mussel pancakes/fritters. something to look forward to.

                        I would have to say that my favorite non-Sri dish is Chao Thai's 3 Buddies Salad. Superb. Don't even think they do this at all at Sri - perhaps they call it by a different name.

                        Anyhow, there's room for more than one Thai restaurant in our fair borough. Jeff, I look forward to hitting up Ayada.
                        P.

                        1. re: Polecat
                          bigjeff Jul 16, 2009 04:20 PM

                          ya man! working on the schedule!

                          1. re: Polecat
                            z
                            zemilideias Jan 26, 2011 03:30 AM

                            Try Chao Thai's crispy morning glory salad--blows away same dish at Sri

                            -----
                            Chao Thai
                            85-03 Whitney Ave, Queens, NY 11373

                          2. re: bigjeff
                            z
                            zemilideias Jul 9, 2010 10:59 AM

                            thanks bigjeff. that's a help, and avery positive one.

                          3. q
                            QChow Jul 10, 2010 09:57 AM

                            My first anticipated visit to Sripraphai was a disappointment. I had heard many great things about the restaurant but experienced very poor service. Our appetizers took forever to arrive at the table, and came only after we reminded the waiter. Then he brought my soft-shell crab entree shortly after. When I asked him to take it back because I wanted to have the appetizer first (and before it got cold), he took it away and rested it on a serving counter until (way after) I finished my entree - bringin a cold entree (that was meant to be hot) to me. When I sent it back because it was cold, he returned with a microwave heated-up dish whose deep-fried coating had turned to sludge. My husband's pork dish was ordinary.

                            I will try Sripraphai again, as the service to other diners looked fine. Hopefully, we will receive better service and better food.

                            -----
                            SriPraPhai
                            64-13 39th Ave, Queens, NY 11377

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: QChow
                              janie Jul 10, 2010 10:56 AM

                              Srip has never paced their dishes ever--generally everything kind of comes out at the same time..if this is nervewracking to you, it just might never be the place for you...I can understand that...it's not fine dining by any means in terms of service, although for us, it has always been curteous and brisk...the few times they've gotten a dish mixed up, like chicken curry instead of shrimp they've promptly replaced it...with a kid in tow, we kind of chow it all down in a hurry anyway, so, it all coming at the same time, doesn't bother us..years ago, before the kid, it was sort of annoying, but we adapted---and sometimes when we're with a group, we just stagger our ordering...but don't do this on the late side, or the kitchen won't like it.

                              1. re: janie
                                Ike Jul 13, 2010 12:34 PM

                                I agree with Janie here. Sripraphai has never paced its dishes. Neither has any other truly authentic Thai restaurant that I've ever visited. (If I remember correctly, "appetizer" doesn't have the same meaning in Thailand as here.) If you want the appetizer first, yes, you must stagger the order -- order the app(s) first and then order everything else later.

                                We've never had to wait very long for anything here. Especially compared to the rest of the country, restaurants around here are lightning fast, and Srip is among the fastest in my experience. I was just there on Sunday night and everything was very good, although I didn't like the soft shell crab as much as I used to. The quality of the crab was not up to par (and the price has risen considerably over the years) although the preparation and the texture were still excellent. The crispy watercress salad was great as always, and the Penang curry was also excellent. However, Silverjay upthread asked "who does a better Penang curry?" presumably as a rhetorical question but I might have to give the edge to Chao Thai for Penang curry. But just slightly. And really, it's hard to compare them. The tastes are very different somehow, and both are great. The exact differences escape my memory and my powers of description. Try them both!

                                -----
                                Chao Thai
                                85-03 Whitney Ave, Queens, NY 11373

                                SriPraPhai
                                64-13 39th Ave, Queens, NY 11377

                                1. re: Ike
                                  Silverjay Jul 13, 2010 03:26 PM

                                  It's best to go early in the service to get the soft shell crabs done well. They are usually larger and perfectly fried. The later in the service you go, the smaller they are and they may rush preparation in the kitchen....I like Chao Thai too. Will have to try the p-curry there again.

                                  -----
                                  Chao Thai
                                  85-03 Whitney Ave, Queens, NY 11373

                                  1. re: Silverjay
                                    Ike Jul 15, 2010 05:28 PM

                                    We were there at around 7 on Sunday. These were reasonably-sized crabs, too, but the taste, to me, was not as good as it's been in the past. It tasted like "yellow" meat (is that called crab mustard?) or maybe orange meat rather than white meat, I think. Some people probably like the yellow or orange stuff though (?).

                                    1. re: Ike
                                      Silverjay Jul 16, 2010 06:14 AM

                                      We actually go quite often for brunch at 11:30am when they open. But your issues sound more to do with the quality or type of crab rather than the preparation. Maybe it's also related to the season as well.?.?..... I've had this dish at Thai Center Point next door and it wasn't as good- especially the mango salad/ sauce that comes with it.

                            2. daffyduck Jul 16, 2010 02:12 PM

                              I just went yesterday after being away from this place for yearsss. I remember when sripraphai was a real hole in the wall restaurant, I kind of miss that even though it's a lot nicer now. The garden is pretty nice.
                              In the past I remember trying the green mango salad and the crispy watercress salad, both were okay but I remember my mom couldn't eat her green mango because it was too spicy. I noticed now they're more careful with the level of spiciness. I remember that both dishes were good, but not great. But I can see how one can think they're great if theyre into vinegar/fish sauce. The only dish I remember being great was the roasted duck with green curry.
                              Yesterday, for apps I tried the soft shell crab and the tom yum soup both were good. For entrees i tried the pad see ew and the pork w/string beans, both were pretty good. But nothing earth shattering though.
                              I was never a regular, but has the quality dipped? or is the menu just so big I've been unlucky and haven't really hit the amazing stuff yet. I remember trying other things but I really don't remember them so that's not a good sign. If I stop by again what do you guys recomend, besides the things I've tried, penang curry, and drunken noodles?

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: daffyduck
                                f
                                FrankieLymon Jul 18, 2010 08:12 AM

                                green curry with duck crispy pork with chili and basil

                                1. re: daffyduck
                                  s
                                  squinchy Aug 4, 2010 11:25 AM

                                  I've found that the best times to go to Srip are during somewhat "off" hours, like around 3 o'clock on the weekend, or before the dinner rush on a weekday. I went last night and had the crispy watercress salad and Roasted duck in hot & spicy sauce (C-18 on the menu) and both were kind of lacking a certain something, that extra bit of tartness and spice, that I've come to expect in eating thai food....this was esp true of the duck dish, which I ordered spicy and not only was it not spicy, but it was missing that something, as if ingredients had been left out.

                                  Last week I had a meal at Ayada thai that I would classify as awesome.

                                  -----
                                  Ayada
                                  77-08 Woodside Ave, Queens, NY 11373

                                2. Duppie Jul 18, 2010 06:36 PM

                                  No.

                                  1. driggs Aug 4, 2010 12:08 PM

                                    I have been going here since the days when it had tiny tables in a basement with a blaring TV.

                                    Its my kids favorite place, and has always been a great joint for children; clean, friendly, and comfortable.

                                    I however go only for my kids sake now; the food is not nearly as good as it used to be; its missing the freshness, consistence, zing, and perfect flavorings that it used to have.

                                    By no means is it bad, it just aint as good as before. As mentioned there are other places that are a bit more exciting (like Ayada and Chao).

                                    Still, its such a friendly place; never have figured the odd sign above the bathrooms in the west side though. Creepy but funny

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: driggs
                                      Deb Van D Aug 4, 2010 12:21 PM

                                      Oh, that.

                                       
                                      1. re: Deb Van D
                                        driggs Aug 4, 2010 12:25 PM

                                        Yes that! If I was home I would of uploaded my picture of it.

                                        There is a window on the womens bathroom looking out onto the couryard; I suppose a blue guy could hoist himself up and look in. So its a fair warning!

                                      2. re: driggs
                                        g
                                        Glendale is hungry Aug 4, 2010 12:41 PM

                                        Hi driggs,

                                        I've been going to Sri since about 1996 and remember institutional cafeteria-type tables and menus with plastic laminated photos of various dishes in big 3-ring binders. But Sri was always at street level when I went and honestly, I don't ever remember a blaring TV.

                                        About how long ago was the basement and blaring TV? Anybody else remember this?

                                        Ciao,

                                        Glendale is hungry...

                                        1. re: Glendale is hungry
                                          driggs Aug 4, 2010 01:20 PM

                                          When the top got filled they opened up a bottom part, was real skinny and had a tv in South West Corner. Unless I am remembering another place, was around 98...

                                          I do remember the laminated photos in 3 ring binders!

                                          1. re: driggs
                                            missmasala Aug 5, 2010 07:34 AM

                                            You're correct--they had a basement that they would open up (sometimes reluctantly) when the upstairs got crowded. it did have a tv, IIRC.

                                            And I thought it was just me, but the last meal I had there was lacking a certain something as well. I'm putting it down to the expansion to the LI location. I think they might be spreading their good cooks too thin. It's a shame, as I have loved this place for a long time.
                                            Don't love some things at Chao, but they do have sai oua, which makes them worth a visit. I mourn the old (good) Zabb, and haven't tried Ayada or Thailand Centrepoint yet. Guess I'll have to check them out.

                                            1. re: missmasala
                                              driggs Aug 5, 2010 08:34 AM

                                              Thanks, glad I was not losing my mind. The downstairs was really cramped and damp.

                                              Yes the food has recently been ok, but not great. I just dont see how you can be consistent and great when you have expanded so much.

                                              Oh, and here is the picture

                                               
                                              1. re: driggs
                                                missmasala Aug 5, 2010 03:22 PM

                                                I find that sign funny, tho not sure it would be my choice for my restaurant's bathroom door.

                                                And, like you, this is one of my kids' fav places, so reluctant to stop going. At any rate, we'll never be able to abandon it completely as it's one of the only decent thai places with a vegetarian menu for my vegetarian daughter (tho the fact that they added a veg menu was in itself a bad sign, and a little fish sauce never hurt her, anyway)

                                      3. Bob Martinez Aug 6, 2010 06:25 AM

                                        I've been going to Sri for the last 7 years and haven't noticed any sign of a decline. Zippo. Maybe I just order right or maybe I have no palate or maybe reasonable people can disagree. The decline reports have been popping up for as long as I can remember. Every time I go with my girlfriend (and we go in the afternoon) the server drops off 4 excellent and well spiced dishes at our table. We taste them and say "You know, this really isn't as good as it used to be. They've dumbed it down for the westerners." Then we have a good laugh and dig in to the food.

                                        I think everyone should make up their own mind whether Sri is slipping or hitting on all cylinders. By all means, try other places, but just because new great restaurants have opened doesn't automatically mean that Sri is slipping. There's plenty of room for all of them.

                                        10 Replies
                                        1. re: Bob Martinez
                                          b
                                          burton Aug 6, 2010 07:02 AM

                                          "I think everyone should make up their own mind whether Sri is slipping or hitting on all cylinders." Hey guess what? That's exactly what folks are doing and a perusal of the previous postings speaks for itself. Most posters have expressed deep respect for Sri but we don't kid ourselves by ignoring its long, steady decline and marked inconsistency. It once was routinely great; it now mostly hovers in the above average/quite good range. Fortunately some notable spots have appeared to carry the banner forth.

                                          1. re: burton
                                            Bob Martinez Aug 6, 2010 07:46 AM

                                            Whenever I want to learn about which places are slipping you're my best source.

                                            1. re: Bob Martinez
                                              b
                                              burton Aug 6, 2010 12:00 PM

                                              Thanks. Happy to help. And while we're on the topic, I'd suggest you branch out a bit and take the trouble to explore the offerings at nearby Chao Thai and Ayada for starters. You just may be surprised.

                                              -----
                                              Chao Thai
                                              85-03 Whitney Ave, Queens, NY 11373

                                              Ayada
                                              77-08 Woodside Ave, Queens, NY 11373

                                          2. re: Bob Martinez
                                            missmasala Aug 6, 2010 08:05 AM

                                            Maybe Sri doesn't need a downhill report (this has happened to me before--i have a mediocre meal, think it's going downhill, then have a stellar one next time) but what I find hard to believe is that you've never had a mediocre meal there--that it's always stellar. I've been going for over a decade and I have had plenty of less-than-stellar meals there. That doesn't mean these meals aren't still better than 99.9% of thai meals in NYC, but they are not up to Sri's standard.
                                            And, because I realize that tastes are subjective, let me give you a real example of what I am talking about. At my last meal there, I ordered the tom kha gai, because they usually make it really well there. I asked for it "thai spicy." Normally this means the soup would be chockfull of pieces of red and green bird chilis. This time, however, the cook making it had just dumped an extra spoonful of crushed red pepper into it--something I could have done at home. The soup wasn't nearly as good b/c the chilis add flavor, not just heat, and that flavor was lacking. It's also usually chockfull of large pieces of galangal, and this time it wasn't. The rest of our dishes suffered similarly, tho none as egregiously as the soup.
                                            So clearly, they had a lazy or bad cook in the kitchen, or they were running low on ingredients--either of which i attribute to their stretching themselves too thin with their expansion to long island.
                                            But, all this said, i'm sure the next time I go, the meal will be stellar. That's how it's been for us.

                                            1. re: missmasala
                                              driggs Aug 6, 2010 08:18 AM

                                              Well said. That has been very much my experience: the mediocre meals have suffered from being, well sloppy I guess.

                                              I been going since 97 or so, and in last two years its really not been the same. The food is fresh, ok, generally well spiced, but not great. As you mention, often the spicy meals are now just hot not flavorful hot. Still, my kids do love it.

                                              oh well, to each there own. Much more interesting to me is, without benefit of time machine, how to get great thai food? Ayada?

                                              -----
                                              Ayada
                                              77-08 Woodside Ave, Queens, NY 11373

                                              1. re: driggs
                                                missmasala Aug 6, 2010 08:41 AM

                                                What I want is a place that doesn't ask you how spicy you want your food. I was upset when Sri started doing that. They used to just make the dishes the way they are supposed to be--now I have to let them know and then worry that they won't be properly spicy.
                                                Chao didn't ask the few times i've been, but i didn't like some of their dishes. I'm def gonna try ayada next time, which will be soon. Have been deprived of thai food all summer b/c family was here from bangkok and they never want to eat thai food here.

                                                1. re: missmasala
                                                  driggs Aug 6, 2010 08:56 AM

                                                  Look forward to your report after.

                                                  Sri another example of my rough rule of thumb for restaurants, that other than the first six months, places never get better.

                                            2. re: Bob Martinez
                                              E Eto Aug 6, 2010 08:15 AM

                                              They've shown signs of inconsistency for as long as I've been going the Sri (the pre-renovation era). But even after a mediocre experience, the next visit is usually met with the expected standards. This has continued into the post-renovation era, but I still won't go there on a weekend during the prime dinner hours. That is the surest way to a mediocre experience (though not always). Maybe it helps that I'm recognized by some of the staff, but most of the time, I just phone my order in to take home (I live a couple blocks away). I think the news of a downhill alert is a bit premature.

                                              By the way, have you (not YOU Bob, but the general you) ever looked inside the kitchen? It looks like the weekly Bingo night at the Thai center in there with a staff of mostly matronly looking middle-aged women. I suspect that on weekends they are relied on to make the standard dishes, but since there are hundreds of way to make any standard dish, it must depend on which of the marms make your dish, and there's a good chance you might won't get one of the regular crew making your stuff. That could explain why I've gone there twice in a week and got two different versions of the same dish. It happens.

                                              1. re: E Eto
                                                missmasala Aug 6, 2010 08:33 AM

                                                I used to be recognized by some of the staff, but since the expansion some of that staff has moved to the long island branch and i notice that the staff in woodside seems to be getting collectively younger.
                                                And I have looked in the kitchen, tho I have seen both women and men in there. And yes, I often get different versions of the same dish, but this was different. It would be like making carbonara sauce with bacos instead of bacon--not the best analogy, but just trying to emphasize how important the chilis and galangal are. This was bad sloppy cooking either b/c they had someone who didn't know how to cook or they were rushed and figured a farang wouldn't know any better. And while I understand what you're saying about variations on a standard dish, i don't think leaving out essential ingredients can count as a variation.

                                                But that said, not giving sri a downhill alert, really. Closest I will come is to say that I used to have a mediocre meal once in every 5, lately it's been every other. And I never go on weekends during prime hours, since i have kids and they never want to wait that long.

                                                1. re: E Eto
                                                  Bob Martinez Aug 6, 2010 09:28 AM

                                                  "but I still won't go there on a weekend during the prime dinner hours. That is the surest way to a mediocre experience (though not always)."

                                                  I always go at around 2:00PM, just after the lunch rush is beginning to die down. I suspect that has something to do with my success in getting very good food. The kitchen isn't slammed and they can pay more attention to getting it right. It seems to work - I've never had a mediocre meal. The ambiance is far better too. The room, with all it's hard surfaces, acts like a giant echo chamber when it's full. The noise level rises, people talk louder to be heard, the noise level rises even more, people talk louder still ... it can be deafening. If you go in the afternoon it's relatively quiet and far more pleasant.

                                                  As far as the heat level goes I'm not tough enough to handle Thai spicy. I ask for things medium and find that the dishes are as hot as the spiciest Szechuan food at Little Pepper or Lan Sheng or any of the other good Szechuan places in Manhattan or Queens. "Szechuan hot" is my limit but I've never had a problem getting that level at Sri.

                                                  I do agree with the poster who said that the chilies add flavor as well as heat. If they suddenly started leaving them out I'd be unhappy.

                                                  I don't question the reports of inconsistency of a number of posters who I respect very much but at the same time that hasn't happened to me. I thought I'd add my experiences to the mix.

                                              2. Duppie Aug 6, 2010 09:32 AM

                                                Forgive my impertinence, but just how many of you fine people have actually been to Thailand and can attest to the fact that :1 You even know what Thai hot is. 2.That Sripraphai is slipping or perhaps getting better?
                                                Let me be the first to say I have never been to Thailand and the only knowledge of Thai food I have is what I have read in recipe books and eaten in restaurants from Miami to NYC. But it would seem to me that....well everybody is an expert and has eaten there when it was just a pushcart manned by a lame peasant who smuggled in real ingredient from Bangkok in bamboo plants through Montreal.
                                                Yes it has expanded and yes it's had off days but truly are the naysayers correct or just want to be the first to hop on that band wagon that wends it's way through treads like these?

                                                -----
                                                SriPraPhai
                                                64-13 39th Ave, Queens, NY 11377

                                                6 Replies
                                                1. re: Duppie
                                                  missmasala Aug 6, 2010 09:41 AM

                                                  I don't know about others, but I actually spend quite a bit of time in Thailand, as my parents and brother, SIL etc live there. My SIL, who is Thai, is a big eater who is obsessed with getting good food and likes things very very very spicy, so:

                                                  1) I've been to Thailand
                                                  2) I know what thai hot is

                                                  And, as I posted above, I wouldn't give Sri a downhill alert, but i do think it's more inconsistent than it used to be. I def don't think it's getting better.

                                                  And Bob, we always go at off hours (either 2 pm for lunch or 5ish for dinner) b/c of the kids, so i don't think the timing of our meals contribute to our problems. But I can see how if you don't want your food served the way it is in thailand (ie. some of the dishes thai spicy) you may not feel that you ever get less-than-stellar food. The problem often lies in that direction, as in the example I detailed above.

                                                  1. re: missmasala
                                                    Bob Martinez Aug 6, 2010 09:48 AM

                                                    Fair enough. Like I said, "Szechuan hot" is my limit. I always assume that when I say "medium" that they've got another level beyond that one but maybe that's not true at all times.

                                                    The other issue I hear has nothing to do with heat levels and has to do with sloppy or inconsistent cooking. Again, I haven't experienced it. We go 6 or 7 times a year so our sample size is reasonably large.

                                                    Have you had issues other than the spicing levels?

                                                    1. re: Bob Martinez
                                                      missmasala Aug 6, 2010 10:01 AM

                                                      yes--but sometimes it's hard to separate, b/c the spiciness is not just about heat, it's about flavor as well. For instance, if a thai curry isn't hot enough, it becomes too sweet for my taste.

                                                      but here are a few other issues that involve sloppiness/inconsistent cooking that I can recall at the moment:

                                                      muddy tasting sauces--for instance on the crispy pork with chinese broccoli (not a spicy dish) or on the chicken with ginger. Usually flavors are bright and clear, but every once in a while the sauces taste muddy--not sure what causes that.
                                                      weird thin noodles used for drunken noodles, instead of the wide ones
                                                      rubbery, chewy duck
                                                      badly-made green mango sauce--ie. not shredded properly, not enough mint and cilantro
                                                      poorly-fried/too dark catfish "crumbs" on the catfish salad--but they've never made this salad well anyway, so I don't order it much.

                                                    2. re: missmasala
                                                      Duppie Aug 6, 2010 10:13 AM

                                                      When I asked the question I was quite aware that some, not all Sripraphai patrons would have visited Thailand and answered yes. You know what's missing in debates like these?Actual Thais or Malaysians or Turks or Spaniards or Mainland Chinese ... well you get the picture.
                                                      I take most overly serious downhill reports as the ramblings of someone whose only exposure to that country and it's cuisine is that of the tour bus driver cousin's cafe/bar/restaurant/souvenir shop. Severe? perhaps but it's worked for me so far.

                                                      -----
                                                      SriPraPhai
                                                      64-13 39th Ave, Queens, NY 11377

                                                      1. re: Duppie
                                                        missmasala Aug 6, 2010 11:02 AM

                                                        You must not spend a lot of time on this board. While it's true that there don't seem to be thai posters, most of the discussions of chinese/korean food include posters who are clearly chinese/korean or children of chinese/korean immigrants.

                                                        And, in my experience, these posters are often at the forefront of downhill alerts. In fact, more than one poster has stated that chinese restaurants (or at least cantonese) often start out with a bang, offering quality and quantity for a good price, but then re-size portions and quality after they gain a clientele.

                                                        And these posters also seem to know when a restaurant has lost its chef/cook and gotten worse.

                                                        I know about the demographic you're referring to above, but I think you're on the wrong website for that. Most posters here (tho not all) know a little about the food on which they comment and i take some of their downhill alerts seriously.

                                                        1. re: missmasala
                                                          Duppie Aug 6, 2010 12:52 PM

                                                          Perhaps you're right considering that the outer boroughs is the melting pot for recent immigrants but I meant it in a broader view in that many of the respondents on this board also share similar views on other boards and cuisines as well. But I thank you for setting me straight as it were.

                                                  2. c
                                                    comiendosiempre Aug 6, 2010 08:30 PM

                                                    We've also been going to SRI for many years, along with a couple of their competitors. Generally speaking most all our meals have been excellent.

                                                    Yet, as noted by the OP, over the past months a couple of the dishes haven't met expectations. Years ago that hardly ever happened. A couple of weeks ago we had a decidedly poor pork with eggplant. It was just a mess, and nowhere near as good as one we had recently had at Aayada. Likewise, a pork with string bean one evening had little taste, except for heat (in truth, we had ordered it pet pet), though prior times the dish was excellent. Yet, the salads are almost always terrific and the curries great.

                                                    I wonder also if, simply, SRI is becoming a bit too familiar while, simultaneously, some real competitors have appeared on the scene.

                                                    1. Miss Needle Sep 14, 2010 09:05 AM

                                                      I've been going there for quite some time now (about 15 years), and my last couple of meals (over the past few months) were pretty mediocre. My drunken noodles (that I've ordered many times before) had no spice whatsoever. Only two sad leaves of Thai basil in the entire dish and they cooked it at too low a temperature. No wok hai. Needless to say, I felt like I wasted a meal. Service was also not that great -- and it was pretty empty there. I had to wait 30 minutes for my check to arrive (and I've asked twice). I just felt like walking out leaving an approximation of what I owed them.

                                                      11 Replies
                                                      1. re: Miss Needle
                                                        driggs Sep 14, 2010 09:50 AM

                                                        Well I have made my case for a few years now; I still go since its my daughters favorite place and her high school in nearby.

                                                        The last few times have been pretty bad; and my dish of choice is also the drunken noodles, so perhaps its just that. Like your experience, had no spice at all, even though I had asked for spicy.

                                                        1. re: driggs
                                                          Miss Needle Sep 14, 2010 10:35 AM

                                                          This was my first experience with nonspicy drunken noodles. I was wondering if they made it nonspicy on purpose because my dining companion requested a not-too-spicy dish for her entree selection. Nevertheless, it did lack flavor and wok hai -- and like a bunch of thai basil leaves. Oh, and there was only one grape tomato in the entire dish. If this was an anomalous stray bad meal, I'd be more apt to write it off. But I've had a few not-so-great experiences in the last few years that it's becoming harder to do so.

                                                          1. re: Miss Needle
                                                            janie Sep 14, 2010 01:43 PM

                                                            we get drunken noodles with ground beef all the time and it's exactly the same--my husband orders it mild and it always comes fairly spicy..we are also long time customers there and have never had a problem with wrong amount of spiciness...perhaps it's hit or miss lately.

                                                            1. re: janie
                                                              missmasala Sep 14, 2010 06:59 PM

                                                              We get it all the time, too, and I have to say, my opinion lately lines up with Miss Needle and Driggs.

                                                              But perhaps if you don't want it too spicy (you say your husband orders it mild) the lack of spice isn't as much of a problem. The wok hai, lack of thai basil, etc. is a different thing. I've had a similar experience with the tom kha gai as well (see post above) and I think they must either have sent their good cooks to the other location or running out of ingredients or something.

                                                              The drunken noodles at Ayada have good wok hai and a nice amount of thai basil, but they contain sliced meat, not ground meat, and a lot of vegetables like broccoli and carrot. I just want the old sri drunken noodles back.

                                                              1. re: missmasala
                                                                janie Sep 14, 2010 09:34 PM

                                                                have you mentioned anything to the owner, or the short waitress who's been there forever, who sort of runs things?

                                                                1. re: janie
                                                                  driggs Sep 15, 2010 04:48 AM

                                                                  When its my choice, and not my kids, I will just go to Ayada.

                                                                  To me its kind of simple; if two places have the same commitment to good food, I will choice the one with 8 tables over 100. Ayada is a bit like the old Sri, the cook, owner, etc are always there, always on top of things.

                                                                  I dont begrudge Sri; as an early vocal fan I am very happy they have gotten the recognition and success they well deserve. If I am looking for consistent solid lovingly made food I just wont go there. Its possible they can maintain standards, just unlikely.

                                                                  I only wish Ayada had that wacky bathroom sign!

                                                                  -----
                                                                  Ayada
                                                                  77-08 Woodside Ave, Queens, NY 11373

                                                                  1. re: janie
                                                                    missmasala Sep 15, 2010 05:52 AM

                                                                    No, because that waitress hasn't been there the last few times i've gone, nor has the owner. Perhaps that's part of the problem. I know they sent that waitress (i've forgotten her name) out to the LI one for a while after it first opened.

                                                                    I will say that the best food we've gotten in recent times was when I called in an order for takeout and the owner answered and i threw in some thai words and she thought i was thai. That time, the food was spicy and excellent--as good as the formica-table days.

                                                                    1. re: missmasala
                                                                      driggs Jan 4, 2011 08:02 AM

                                                                      Ayada has now become my go to thai, but this xmas day I took the whole family to Sri (its part of the tradition for us, and the kids love sri).

                                                                      To beat a dead horse, I stick with all my previous posts about this place becoming mediocre. The drunken noodles where, like the last few times, almost inedible, with flat gooey taste.

                                                                      Really nothing worked, even the kids noticed it this time. I think even they are ready to move on.

                                                                      Really is a fascinating example of the arc of a successful restaurant.

                                                                      -----
                                                                      Ayada
                                                                      77-08 Woodside Ave, Queens, NY 11373

                                                          2. re: Miss Needle
                                                            Silverjay Sep 15, 2010 10:15 AM

                                                            I’ve been going for 5 years and I have to say that I’ve never been particularly impressed by any of their noodle dishes. I don’t think noodles are one of their strengths. The curries, fried dishes, and the 4-5 a la carte dishes that I rotate through continue to be strong overall and they will come spicy if I ask. Occasionally a dish will be prepared differently or maybe rushed, but my overall meals are still consistently good at Sri. I do avoid going at peak hours. I wonder if the overall spiciness issue is related to their expansion and increased popularity. I’m theorizing that the more the general population is exposed to Thai food, the more people who are less tolerant or less used to eating at such levels are dining there and being vocal about preferences, and thus the restaurant is dialing things down. Just a theory. This all said, I have quietly become a devotee of Ayada. And I’ll also eat at Chao Thai from time to time as well.

                                                            1. re: Silverjay
                                                              r
                                                              Rocky2 Sep 15, 2010 10:58 PM

                                                              Yes yes yes. Sri is overrated overhyped and is mediocre. Now y'all stop going there so I don't have to wait on line so long to get in! Woo hoo!! Gonna Thai one on!

                                                              1. re: Rocky2
                                                                Duppie Sep 16, 2010 04:45 AM

                                                                Right behind you brother...

                                                          3. l
                                                            littleteresa Jan 11, 2011 04:02 AM

                                                            For me the test is Tom Yum Soup.
                                                            Sripi's is one of the best, oyster mushrooms instead of buttons.
                                                            I also like Thailand Center Point restaurant which is a block away and very good too

                                                            1. g
                                                              gypsyesquire Jan 11, 2011 05:27 AM

                                                              Two words: Jungle Curry. We are very picky about where we eat because my husband is a trained chef and my hobby is preparing healthy tasty meals at home, and we jump at the chance to go to Sripraphai. When friends recently had a baby, we treated them to home delivery meal of all kinds of Srip dishes. We love the dried pork, the massaman curry, and the fish cakes. We've had a few blah dishes, but there's so much on the menu that we love and even more that we have yet to try, I have to think that the blah dishes are just like any other restaurant--things other people like, anomalies, or standards that go well with something that I didn't know to order. And as for the service, we've always found them pleasant and accommodating. It's not a place where you get quick service, but when the food comes, it's worth it.

                                                              -----
                                                              SriPraPhai
                                                              64-13 39th Ave, Queens, NY 11377

                                                              1. d
                                                                Dick G Jan 11, 2011 06:29 AM

                                                                My visits to the Queens location have always been great. Living much closer to the New Hyde Park location that has become my regular Thai restaurant. It is unfortunate for us true Thai lovers this location has bowed to the tastes of the masses and it is literally impossible, even by requesting "the bomb" for heat, to get it. The folks I saw there in the beginning were ordering hot and then sending it back as too hot, thus the problem now encountered. The Queens crowd is much more into the ethnic tastes and I guess I have to go to Queens or Elmhurst for Ayada which is able to give me what I want in heat. Not Sripraphai's fault but they succumbed to the taste of the masses.

                                                                -----
                                                                SriPraPhai
                                                                64-13 39th Ave, Queens, NY 11377

                                                                Ayada
                                                                77-08 Woodside Ave, Queens, NY 11373

                                                                1. o
                                                                  on the fork Jan 11, 2011 08:40 AM

                                                                  Having lived in Bangkok for 5+ years, I am a certified Thai food snob who won't touch most of what passes for Thai food in this country. Now I admit that when I order at Sripraphai, I ask them to make the food spicy, the same as they would for Thai people, because when Thai restaurants dumb down the chilis, it throws the whole spicy-sour-sweet-salty out of balance. But having said that, I have never been disappointed, and I have tried at least 30 different dishes over the years. Sounds like there are other authentic Thai restaurants out there, but I am sticking with the known quantity. I will say that the one time I tried the other Sripraphai location out on Long Island, it was not up to the Woodside standards.

                                                                  -----
                                                                  SriPraPhai
                                                                  64-13 39th Ave, Queens, NY 11377

                                                                  1. l
                                                                    luckygirl Jan 13, 2011 10:20 AM

                                                                    I couldn't agree more with the OP's premise that Sripraphai is overrated. After hearing and reading so much positive about the place I was greatly looking forward to trying it on a recent trip to NYC.

                                                                    I was meeting a friend there and shortly after I arrived he texted me to say he wouldn't be able to join me for an hour or so. In my short time waiting for my friend at Sripraphai my expectations were already lowered when I saw a handful of dishes go by that looked to me like restaurantized Thai food- over sauced noodles, limp looking (over cooked) veggies and nothing smelled compelling.

                                                                    I decided to pass the hour I had to wait for my friend by heading to Thailand's Center Point, the Thai restaurant a block away from Sripraphai that caught my attention when I walked by it.

                                                                    I ordered the soft shell crab with mango salad and pork larb starters. The soft shell crab and mango salad were perfect. The mango salad had a nice amount of heat but most importantly it was in perfect balance. In fact, this soft shell crab was even better than that from my gold standard place for Thai, Lotus of Siam, LV.

                                                                    The larb was equally impressive and again perfectly balanced, just the right heat, acid, and fish sauce. I especially lied that it was served with leaves of cabbage as I prefer to have it.

                                                                    My friend joined me shortly after I had been served and got to enjoy both dishes with me.

                                                                    A dish that was served at the table next to me piqued my interest and after inquiring I found out that it was a dessert dish of warm coconut milk with sliced bananas and toasted sesame seeds. The idea of warmed coconut milk with bananas so appealed to me on what was a cold night that my friend and I agreed to return to Thailand Center Point for dessert after having dinner at Sripraphai.

                                                                    So we headed to Sripraphai for our meal. We were seated at maybe ten after nine and were abruptly (bordering on rudely) told that we had to get our order in right away because the kitchen closed at 9:30.

                                                                    I decided on one of my favorite Thai dishes, khao soi. We decided that instead of ordering a second entree we would order the pork larb and do a comparison to the one we had just enjoyed at TCP. We also ordered a fish cake app.

                                                                    Neither the larb nor fish cake was that great. The fish cake was average, not better or worse than most restaurants although the sauce served with it was the gloppy sweet jarred type vs. a nicely balanced sweet vinegar sauce as I prefer. The larb lacked spice, wasn't well balanced and the pork itself had a soft almost mushy texture that I didn't care for at all. There was no contest between this larb at what we had enjoyed at TCP. Sripraphai's version was a thoughtlessly made bed of mushy pork that had not enough lime juice, heat or toasted rice to make the dish what it is supposed to be.

                                                                    On to the khoa soi, like the fish cakes themselves (minus the sauce) this was an average version of the dish. It was flat, lacking in profundity. When prepared well this dish has an incredible depth of flavor and a nice burn to it. Neither was present in this version.

                                                                    While we were at Sripriphai I saw several other dishes being served that made me shake my head. A whole fish with a thick, gloppy sauce was one that just re-enforced what I was feeling- that this place is totally restaurantized Thai.

                                                                    So, after we paid for dinner we went back to TCP for the warm coconut milk and banana dessert. It was wonderful, like the other two dishes we had enjoyed earlier it was perfectly balance. Not too sweet, the right amount of coconut milk vs. water to thin and a pinch of salt, not enough to discern but enough to balance the light sweetness and to make it pop.

                                                                    As I mentioned earlier, Lotus of Siam, LV is my gold standard for Thai but beyond that I am an accomplished Thai cook. If I go out for Thai I don't want restaurant/Americanized Thai; I want home cooking Thai which is what I got at TCP but not from Sripraphai.

                                                                    I enjoyed talking to the woman who is the chef at TCP and comparing noted on various ingredients we each are partial to (types of fish sauce, coconut milk etc) and how we feel about the use of other specific ingredients in our respective cooking. The place is owned by this woman and her husband. Their two daughters take care of the tables.

                                                                    As I left TCP I was torn between feeling like I wanted to shout from the roof tops that this was the place for proper Thai vs. feeling that I don't want the place to become overrun as Sripraphai was and risk it loosing its genuine cuisine. It's a chance I'm taking because no one who cooks this well should play second fiddle to a lesser place.

                                                                    I know that a few dishes does not an indepth comparision make but the dishes I had at each place plus those that I saw served to other tables was enough to tell me where I want to dine on return visits.

                                                                    -----
                                                                    SriPraPhai
                                                                    64-13 39th Ave, Queens, NY 11377

                                                                    Thailand's Center Point
                                                                    63-19 39th Ave, Queens, NY 11377

                                                                    11 Replies
                                                                    1. re: luckygirl
                                                                      E Eto Jan 13, 2011 11:16 AM

                                                                      Confused by what you mean by restaurantized. I also really like Lotus of Siam, but isn't that one of the most "restaurantized" restaurants? I also like Thai Center Point, but Sripraphai still does several dishes better than I've had at TCP. Maybe you mean that Sripraphai is trying to do too much to appeal to a wide range of tastes. That I can concur with. However, if you're basing your assessment based on a few appetizers you tasted and several that just went by your table, then I think you're overreaching in your conclusions. One other lesson is not to go to Sripraphai after 9pm.

                                                                      1. re: E Eto
                                                                        l
                                                                        luckygirl Jan 13, 2011 02:30 PM

                                                                        What I mean by restaurantized is that it is not fine cooking with an emphasis on being authentic but rather cooking for a large number of people with not much regard for the product (my opinion). Also, Americanized i.e. overly sweet instead of balanced, gloppy, thick sauces. While LOS cooks for a large number of patrons every day there is still a focus on making each dish the best it can be and there dishes are well done not typical Thai restaurant quality. Based on the few dishes I tried and on the many dishes I saw I have no interest in returning to Sripraphai but great interest in exploring more at TCP. I can tell you that whenever I'm at LOS and I see dishes go by that I've not yet had I always want to know what they are and can't wait to try them. I didn't see a single dish on another patrons table or being served at Sriraphai that left me interested in trying it.

                                                                        -----
                                                                        SriPraPhai
                                                                        64-13 39th Ave, Queens, NY 11377

                                                                        1. re: luckygirl
                                                                          Bob Martinez Jan 13, 2011 06:03 PM

                                                                          I have been to Sri over 30 times. From your description I wouldn't have recognized it.
                                                                          Even the people who think Sri has slipped, and they're a minority, never rated it that low. I suspect you have much higher standards than us.

                                                                          1. re: Bob Martinez
                                                                            driggs Jan 14, 2011 04:50 AM

                                                                            Bob
                                                                            I would have to agree with her; my last meal on Xmas was pretty darn bad.
                                                                            I have never been to Thailand Center Point, or Lotus of Siam, so cant opine on those.

                                                                            1. re: driggs
                                                                              Bob Martinez Jan 17, 2011 09:41 AM

                                                                              You know Driggs, I really have to thank you. Every time you post about how bad Sri is it motivates me to go back and eat there again. That's what we did on Saturday. You know what? It's still terrific.

                                                                              We started with the BBQ beef with chili, mint, onion and lime juice (A-11). This was my GF's pick and it was perfect. She just emailed me to say "That BBQ beef had the sprinkling of ground, toasted rice. Just adds such a subtle nuttiness." Yes indeed. It was great.

                                                                              Our 2nd starter was sweet sausage with cucumber, onion, chili and lime juice (A-14). While the sausage isn't spicy the accompanying chili peppers add the perfect amount of heat. This dish is a home run every time.

                                                                              We were in an experimental mood and ordered a 3rd starter that I had never tried before - grilled pork meatballs with spicy sauce (A-25.) This was a miss. The sauce was both sweet and spicy and really very good. The meatballs were perfectly spiced as well. The problem was with the consistency of the meatballs which were ground too fine. It made them unpleasantly rubbery. Too bad, because everything else about the dish was very good.

                                                                              Mains were ground pork with chili, garlic and basil leaves over rice (O-6) and sauteed chicken with ginger, onion and scallion (C-5) . Both are old favorites and neither disappointed. The ground pork dish is assertively spiced and clocks in at about an 8 on the heat-o-meter. The chicken is more subtle. It has a bit of heat but the balance of flavors is almost delicate. It makes for a nice change of pace.

                                                                              When we arrived at around 2:00PM the place was packed but the lunchtime crowd soon began to thin out. As a result the noise level was low. That's my only problem with the place - it can get too noisy at peak times. By going in the afternoons I can make that go away.

                                                                              I've been going to Sri for 8 years and it's as good as ever. Thanks Driggs!

                                                                              1. re: Bob Martinez
                                                                                driggs Jan 17, 2011 02:16 PM

                                                                                Your welcome. I am glad someone gets something out of my rants:)

                                                                                1. re: Bob Martinez
                                                                                  z
                                                                                  ZaZa Jan 19, 2011 04:54 PM

                                                                                  Thanks Bob. Looking forward to enjoying those dishes. Next time, I won't go with a vegetarian (no offense to my dear ones). Can't wait!

                                                                        2. re: luckygirl
                                                                          Silverjay Jan 14, 2011 02:19 AM

                                                                          At Thai Center Point, I’ve tried the soft shell crab with mango salad and the fried pork leg in chili basil sauce. These are two regular dishes I order at Sripaphai. The crab I was served was small and I think fried in a different oil than SPP. It was crispy but not particularly tasty nor as succulent as the crab we usually get at SPP. The “mango salad” was served in a stemware glass. It was julienned mango, mint, red onion and several ounces of what tasted like commercial lime juice- the kind served in those little plastic green limes. It was very sweet. I picked up the crab and dipped it in the juice and ate it this way. It wasn’t particularly good and certainly not like SPP’s brilliant little mango salad, which they always call “sauce”. This is a nicely balanced small salad that you can pick up and steady on a nice hunk of crab and get the intended contrasting effects of the dish. At SPP, we’ve noticed that the earlier in the service you go, the larger your crab will be.

                                                                          The fried pork leg at TCP was capably prepared, although done drier than at SPP. The portion size is smaller and it is less sauced and the hunk of pork leg is predominantly meat. At SPP, this a wonderful half a pig trotter with giant chunks of juicy meat and gelatinous slabs of collagen masquerading as pork fat. It’s covered in a savory, sweet, spicy sauce. To me, TCP’s tasted like a decent homemade version of the dish, while SPP’s seems like a restaurant prepared indulgence.

                                                                          I don’t know how many times on the board we can recommend to people not to go to a restaurant during their peak busy hours or around closing time. This seems like so much more intuitive knowledge than making conclusions based on food being passed by you without actually eating it.

                                                                          1. re: Silverjay
                                                                            l
                                                                            luckygirl Jan 14, 2011 06:01 AM

                                                                            I don't think that the time of the evening had much to do with it as I made the same observations an hour earlier when I was at SPP waiting for my friend. In fact, it was those observations that prompted me to leave and give TCP a try.

                                                                            You and I had the exact opposite experiences with the soft shell crab at TCP. I loved the perfectly balanced mango salad. I didn't find it sweet and it was made with fresh lime juice. I am sorry to think that TCP can be that inconsistent.

                                                                            As to the question from another poster about my standards for Thai cuisine, it is true, they are high. I was hoping that SPP was going to be as good and the same type of Thai cooking I do, have been served by Thai home cooks and along the lines of LOS- LV. It wasn't even close.

                                                                          2. re: luckygirl
                                                                            Polecat Jan 14, 2011 04:25 PM

                                                                            "As I left TCP I was torn between feeling like I wanted to shout from the roof tops that this was the place for proper Thai vs. feeling that I don't want the place to become overrun as Sripraphai was and risk it loosing its genuine cuisine"

                                                                            Well, first off, the cat is well up and out of the bag. Thailand Center Point is hardly what I would call a well-kept secret at this point. It's well known in the food blogosphere, at very least, and has gotten attention from the Voice as well. I've eaten there around 5 times to this point, have enjoyed the food to varying degrees, but have never seen the joint crowded, not even close. I've mostly gone on Sunday afternoons, or at times where SriPraPhi is packed to the gills. I'll let others chime in on their experiences vis-a-vis the crowd level at TCP, but, if my experience is at all typical, I'd say you'd better risk shouting to the rooftops or this nice, friendly little joint might not be around in a while.
                                                                            P.

                                                                            -----
                                                                            SriPraPhai
                                                                            64-13 39th Ave, Queens, NY 11377

                                                                            1. re: Polecat
                                                                              g
                                                                              Glendale is hungry Jan 15, 2011 02:30 PM

                                                                              Since a lot of this is discussing Thailand Center Point, here is a link to a TCP thread:

                                                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/700528

                                                                          3. z
                                                                            ZaZa Jan 16, 2011 11:14 AM

                                                                            Took a friend there for a late weekday lunch a little over a year ago. After doing research on Chowhound, ordered all these recommended dishes (too many dishes for two people, but we were hungry and wanted to taste). All I remember was a gorgeous garden, a really clean bathroom, a really nice owner--and walking away feeling really disappointed as far as the food was concerned...although I still appreciate the lovely companionship of my friend.

                                                                            1. k
                                                                              kathryn Jan 17, 2011 07:49 AM

                                                                              Had dinner here last night, group of 6 people, two Manhattanites and four Brooklynites. We came in kind of late (around 9pm).

                                                                              A1 Papaya salad was lovely and a nice contrast to the other dishes and a huge portion, we couldn't finish this. A6 crispy watercress salad with seafood was great, spicy and salty as usual. This is one of my husband's favorite dishes, especially when you mix all the sauce from the bottom onto the fried watercress. Next up was A13 pork larb was excellent in texture and flavore. I had Kin Shop's version a few weeks ago which was all heat and no complexity. Sri's larb was nice mixture of spices and herbs and heat. We also ordered A32 fried whole shrimp in an egg roll wrapper (a friend's choice). It was fine. Good, bouncy, fresh shrimp but overall not that interesting a dish as a whole. We probably over did it on the appetizers.

                                                                              I thought the N5 drunken noodles with chicken were excellent and had great basil flavor, not chewy or gloppy like others have reported. Guess we caught them on a good day. I also really liked the C10 sauteed Chinese broccoli with crispy pork bits. My friend remarked it was like eating crunchy little pork croutons. Delicious, delicious croutons. Luckily we only had the C22 Massaman curry with beef chunks and C25 green curry with roasted duck and pineapple to deal with next -- oh, wait. This ended up being way too much food. I liked the Massaman curry's flavor but it was so heavy after eating all of those appetizers. The big stewed chunks of beef were great and fell apart in your mouth. My favorite is still the green curry with roasted duck and pineapple and tomatoes! The flavor of the green curry goes so well with coconut rice, of which we demolished 4 bowls of, and paid the consequences of inflating bellies afterwards!

                                                                              And then! Our soft shell crab with chili, garlic, and basil special came. We were torn between SC1 and SC2 from the back of the menu and I don't see this section online. I had a few bites, was too full to eat more. This dish was OK but I can't say if I judged it well because I was already insanely full.

                                                                              Has anybody else explored this section of the menu more? SC1 looked interesting to me as well -- fried with green curry, pineapple, pumpkin, and long beans. Or is A15 the appetizer with mango salad better?

                                                                              Overall, I think it's still good. While it wasn't as amazing as previous meals, it was still very good and way better than what you get in most of Brooklyn and Manhattan. Especially for $25 per person, including tip, and some sodas and beers!

                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                              1. re: kathryn
                                                                                d
                                                                                donovt Jan 17, 2011 04:12 PM

                                                                                I'm a relatively new Thai food fan, but I think the soft shell crab with chili, garlic and basil is one of the best dishes I've ever eaten.

                                                                                1. re: donovt
                                                                                  Jeffsayyes Jan 17, 2011 04:40 PM

                                                                                  I don't mean to put you down at all, but I think most people's introduction to REal Thai food is a revelation; And most people's first is Sriprapai. I think 80 percent of the Thai food in the area is worth mentioning on chowhound, especially for someone from an outer borough (not queens). Most of these have their own board on chowhound.

                                                                                  1. re: Jeffsayyes
                                                                                    d
                                                                                    donovt Jan 17, 2011 04:55 PM

                                                                                    No offense taken. I purposely mentioned that I'm new to Thai food. Had some bad Thai food when I lived in brooklyn years ago and never tried again til about a year ago. That being said, I live 5 minutes from Sri and have eaten there quite a few times in the past year. That soft shell crab dish is one of the best things I've ever eaten.

                                                                                    1. re: donovt
                                                                                      daffyduck Jan 17, 2011 05:17 PM

                                                                                      ive tried their soft shell crab. it's good definitely one of their better dishes i had. my favorite dish though is definitely the roasted duck with green curry.

                                                                                      1. re: daffyduck
                                                                                        k
                                                                                        kathryn Jan 17, 2011 05:40 PM

                                                                                        Which soft shell crab do you usually order? The one we're talking about is SC2:

                                                                                        http://www.bridgeandtunnelclub.com/bi...

                                                                                        Have you had SC1 or SC3? How do they compare to A15?

                                                                                        1. re: kathryn
                                                                                          daffyduck Jan 17, 2011 08:13 PM

                                                                                          I only had A15. I didn't try the others.

                                                                              2. w
                                                                                wew Jan 17, 2011 04:51 PM

                                                                                You are not alone. Here it is the longest down hill slide in chowhound memory:

                                                                                Perhaps we ordered wrong, but I've been there many times in the past, ordered widely on the menu and never been so overall disappointed with the tastes. June 21,2000

                                                                                I had some good experiences there but recently a friend of mine and his wife, both long time patrons, had a horrible service experience there and are extremely hesitant to go back. They ordered something, the chef made a mistake, they didnt want it, and the server and the kitchen staff tried to force them to eat it, and things got real nasty. July 9, 2001

                                                                                My girlfriend is the vegetarian. She doesn't eat meat or fish and the dishes they made here tasted like a second rate take-out joint-bland and limp. Now I can't her to go back. June 21, 2001

                                                                                Saturday his was my third visit. Each of the three times, I have ordered 2-5 items. Every single time half of the grub has been delicious and 1/2 has been very near close to crappy….The icing on the tombstone was the CRISPY PORK. I don't know HOW OLD this junk was -- or how many times it had been fried (my guess is 5) Nov 26,2001

                                                                                I just wasn't that impressed with the place the few times I've been there. April 25, 2003

                                                                                think I am one of the very very few who didn't have a great experience…Everything seemed to be either too sweet or too oily april 28, 2003

                                                                                That was my experience as well.. I'm no Thai food afficianado, but I didn't care for Sri at all….The duck was very sweet..Almost nauseating.. april 28, 2003

                                                                                I have only been there once in the company of CH'ers and was, to say the least a little underwhelmed…I found there was none of the clarity of tastes that I would have expected or had been told I would find… april 28, 2003

                                                                                Some dishes were nice, but I have had better panang curry and rice noodles with chili and basil at the Lemongrass Grill on 7th Avenue, which is almost embrarrassing to admit. I really enjoyed the adventure, but the food was far below the quality I'd expected. Aug 9, 2003

                                                                                I just wonder if this place still has it as it's just been progressively less authentic with each visit. Would still return, but in no hurry and in the meantime would sure welcome another truly authentic Thai Kitchen anywhere in New York. Feb 19, 2005

                                                                                the service there is horrendously slow and unfriendly. my boyfriend had to ask for hot sauce 3 times before he got it. we waited 40 minutes for a table and then about an hour for our food. Feb 19, 2005

                                                                                I have been eating here at least once a week for a very long time. I was out of town for last few months, had my first meal this weekend. Ick. I mean it wasnt that the food was of a bit, it was downright bad. I had a catfish salad, drunken noodles, and a yellow curry. The drunken noodles had zero flavor. Just a tangle of flavorless noodles swimming in some grease. It was shocking. Aug 28 2006

                                                                                The food at Sriprapai is very Americanized which explains why most of the patrons who eat there are mostly white. Nov 16 2006

                                                                                We went there for the first time and I was underwhelmed. It was certainly good, certainly "authentic", but... I thought the crispy catfish papaya salad was sort of one-dimensional... date forgotten

                                                                                So, there it is...The old grey mare ain't what she used to be... Feb 09, 2008
                                                                                I'll stop here

                                                                                -----
                                                                                Lemongrass Grill
                                                                                61 7th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217

                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                1. re: wew
                                                                                  E Eto Jan 17, 2011 05:13 PM

                                                                                  Are these comments from one person, or are you clipping from previous CH posts or from somewhere else? Just wondering where one can find such a collection of seriously flawed palates or the unluckiest people in NYC. Also wondering where, other than Lemongrass Grill, you find really good Thai food?

                                                                                  1. re: E Eto
                                                                                    w
                                                                                    wew Jan 18, 2011 07:56 AM

                                                                                    I wasn't doing much so I searched the files of the board from 1999 and cut and pasted. The dates and comments are accurate, but I omited the names of posters in the name of comity. One comment per poster. I avoided comparisons, including the one only to be a representitive of a class.
                                                                                    So to answer your question they can be found here on this board.

                                                                                    1. re: wew
                                                                                      E Eto Jan 18, 2011 08:57 AM

                                                                                      Ah, OK. So next question. What's your point? And do you have an actual opinion to share or a tip to take away from this discussion?

                                                                                      1. re: E Eto
                                                                                        w
                                                                                        wew Jan 19, 2011 01:57 PM

                                                                                        Sorry for the delay in responding E.E., I 'm back at work now.
                                                                                        First a tip - Green Curry with Fish (Shrimp) Dumplings, rich, hot, with lots of grachai flavor. David Thompson in the headnote to his recipe for this dish indicates that some cooks make it with sugar some make it without. Here sugar is added. I believe that this dish is a fairly new addition to the menu, it's new to me at least.
                                                                                        A point here illustrated. OSF Jim Leff observation that no restaurant, no matter how well or widely admired is without detractors here at Chowhound.
                                                                                        To belabor the obvious, my house specialty, to make sense of hounding I've spent time calibrating my experiences with those of other posters to find good fits. This thread and the mining of past threads was a reminder of the great work, done by names I have come to depend on. Thanks to all for finding Sripraphai and detailed menu recommendations which have led to many great meals I've had there.

                                                                                        -----
                                                                                        SriPraPhai
                                                                                        64-13 39th Ave, Queens, NY 11377

                                                                                2. Kurtis Jan 18, 2011 01:28 PM

                                                                                  #7 "Concord" Flight to Bankok: $2.25.

                                                                                  Quick stopovers in Bogota, Mexico City, San Salvadore, and Lima to checkout the latest on the streets: $0

                                                                                  Ordering Crispy Chinese Watercress Salad and a drink as I am shown to a quiet corner table without the wait: $20.00

                                                                                  Receiving a text "Where R U?" from my wife while approaching East River Skyline on Singapore Air Flight #7: Priceless.

                                                                                  1. s
                                                                                    swannee Jan 25, 2011 05:45 PM

                                                                                    The problem with Sripraphai is what so often happens to once wonderful hole-in-the -wall ethnic restaurants: they get discovered by the populace at large who demand familiar food--which inevitably means bland, too sweet, too greasy, too dumbed-down. And the restaurant ends up doing it. The secret at Sripraphai--and many others--is order dishes that only real Thai food aficionados would get: the Sotor (stinking beans), the rice with shrimp paste (really delicious), the spicy bamboo shoots (which are not on the menu), the sour curry. OK, I also love the crispy pork with basil and the Tom gai kha and the duck salad--but these are perhaps slightly less good than they used to be. But they are much better if ordered with the other, less gringo-friendly dishes. Why? Because they take you more seriously.

                                                                                    -----
                                                                                    SriPraPhai
                                                                                    64-13 39th Ave, Queens, NY 11377

                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: swannee
                                                                                      j
                                                                                      jdf Jan 26, 2011 08:38 AM

                                                                                      I'm not sure I subscribe to this logic. Sri was a restaurant that was 1/10th the size that it is now, and it catered almost solely to Thai people. Other perople sourced it out and fueled its popularity due to the fact that its menu and spicing was more authentic than the Americanized places. I don't think that those looking for Americanized food go there and for those that do, if its too spicy, I'm sure Sri (based on the lines) has plenty of other customers that do crave authentic Thai. I also believe their menu is pretty authentic, so not sure what dishes are "gringo-friendly" and that the kitchen's quality varies based on whether a dish is what "real thai food afficianaods" would get.

                                                                                      That being said, I do believe (having been going there since the late '90's) in some respects Sri does not consistently hit the highs that they used to in terms of quality of food or spicing, but I think that is probably due more to the fact that they have gotten to be such a large restaurant that the same level of consistent care with each dish is no longer attainable.

                                                                                      1. re: jdf
                                                                                        driggs Jan 26, 2011 08:56 AM

                                                                                        I tend to agree with this theory rather than the other one; That the size and growth became the problem, rather than an intent to garner a larger audience by dumbing down the food. . My problem has been more an issue of consistency and sloppiness; you can still now and then get damn good dishes, just never sure when.

                                                                                        1. re: driggs
                                                                                          missmasala Jan 26, 2011 09:48 AM

                                                                                          I dunno, I tend to agree with Swannee. The best food I've had there in recent memory was the time I called in a take-out order and said hello in Thai. The woman on the other end of the phone thought that I was either Thai at least familiar enough with Thailand to know some Thai. By the time I arrived and they saw that I was a farang, the food had already been made. Every dish was stellar.
                                                                                          And yes, the farangs who initially liked sri liked it bc it was more authentic. but at some point a place that gets the kind of press coverage sri has "jumps the shark" so to speak, and people start coming not bc they know and like authentic thai food but bc they heard it was good. I suspect many of sri's farang customers these days have no idea what really good thai food is. And, while of course the menu is authentic, there are items that are more farang-friendly than others. Even in Thailand, you get restaurants where they are reluctant to serve farangs certain dishes, or where farangs get "props" so to speak for ordering and enjoying certain dishes. So I do believe that if you order some less farang-friendly dishes, the kitchen will think you know what real thai food is and cook and spice your dishes accordingly.

                                                                                          1. re: missmasala
                                                                                            Duppie Jan 26, 2011 10:34 AM

                                                                                            Ok... we get it...You're "farang" as you chose to point out 7 times in your last post, but we're talking Queens here in case you forgot, so while I for one would love to visit Thailand,have the ability to sample real Thai cuisine and perhaps become "farang" as yourself, we have SPP in it's sted and while not as authentic as your
                                                                                            "farang" taste buds would favor, I'll take it for now.

                                                                                            1. re: Duppie
                                                                                              Bob Martinez Jan 26, 2011 10:55 AM

                                                                                              "Farang" refers to a "Westerner," not a Thai native.

                                                                                              1. re: Bob Martinez
                                                                                                missmasala Jan 26, 2011 02:28 PM

                                                                                                yes--suppose i should have said american, but was using it instead of the "gringo" that other posters used as gringo always seems wrong to me in this context. That's for mexican restaurants. ; )

                                                                                    2. r
                                                                                      Rocky45 Jan 25, 2011 07:21 PM

                                                                                      You're right! Sripraphai is overrated! Everyone stop going! Please stop going! Anything to shorten that line so I can get in sooner!

                                                                                      -----
                                                                                      SriPraPhai
                                                                                      64-13 39th Ave, Queens, NY 11377

                                                                                      1. s
                                                                                        swannee Jan 26, 2011 10:54 AM

                                                                                        I must not have been clear. I definitely think Sripraphai was far better when it was a hole in the wall. It is the usual, classic syndrome with nearly all ethnic restaurants. They open, they bring fresh, vibrant, authentic food. Word gets around, they get some good reviews, people from all over start flocking in, the place expands, the kitchen is overwhelmed. At the same time--and I would not underestimate this, I have seen it happen too many times--customers come in who know nothing about authentic food and expect the usual Americanized crap. So the restaurant, understandably, tries to accommodate them. And slowly but surely, they lose their authenticity, their good old regular clients, and their quality. Think of all the "newcomers" who go to some real Cantonese or Fujianese or Shanghaiese place and want Sesame Chicken, or Cold Sesame Noodles ( with peanut butter) or some other dish invented more or less on the UWS. Or those who are used to sweet and gloppy pad Thai or papaya salad, who complain about the real product and want the old familiar garbage.
                                                                                        I think there is still good food to be had a Sripraphai to be had, if one stays away from the dishes that have been compromised--all the typical favorites. But it certainly not the restaurant it was before the expansion--and the enormous popularity that caused it.

                                                                                        -----
                                                                                        SriPraPhai
                                                                                        64-13 39th Ave, Queens, NY 11377

                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: swannee
                                                                                          m
                                                                                          MRich Jan 26, 2011 12:03 PM

                                                                                          I don't disagree with that theory in general, but I don't think people like that are flocking to Queens to visit SPP.

                                                                                          1. re: swannee
                                                                                            missmasala Jan 26, 2011 02:30 PM

                                                                                            This is exactly my opinion. Except that I don't think the typical favorites been compromised all the time, just sometimes. Sometimes they still hit the sweet spot.

                                                                                            1. re: missmasala
                                                                                              p
                                                                                              pynchoff Jan 27, 2011 07:11 AM

                                                                                              Like many of you, I have been going to Sri for more than ten years. I did feel that there was a sharp decline in consistency after they opened the Long Island restaurant and I stopped going for awhile. My last four or five visits,however, have all been consistently good. I like TCP for its friendly atmosphere, but the food isn't nearly as good as Sri or Ayada or even Ploy Thai. I haven't tried Lotus of Siam but Kin Shop charged a lot more money for a lot less food and the food itself was fairly mediocre.

                                                                                              -----
                                                                                              Ploy Thai
                                                                                              81-40 Broadway, Queens, NY 11373

                                                                                              Ayada
                                                                                              77-08 Woodside Ave, Queens, NY 11373

                                                                                              1. re: pynchoff
                                                                                                Bob Martinez Jan 27, 2011 08:53 AM

                                                                                                Opinion on the NY branch Lotus of Siam skewed largely negative. Then, this week, the original owners of the Las Vegas restaurant severed their partnership with their NY partners. (See the thread on the Manhattan board.) I think that tells you all you need to know.

                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                Las Vegas Restaurant
                                                                                                44-62 21st St, Queens, NY 11101

                                                                                            2. re: swannee
                                                                                              janie Jan 27, 2011 04:25 PM

                                                                                              all of the following dishes have been the same for me (preparation and spice factor) since it was a hole in the wall until now. i never go on weekends and try to avoid holidays----
                                                                                              -drunken noodles with beef
                                                                                              -green curry with shrimp (don't get eggplant, get bamboo shoots and red peppers)
                                                                                              -chicken satay
                                                                                              -shrimp with garlic pepper
                                                                                              -fried watercress salad
                                                                                              ----------------
                                                                                              which are the dishes that posters are claiming are inconsistent or have radically become bad?

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